Failure of high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy to benefit patients with advanced cancer. A controlled trial

N Engl J Med. 1979 Sep 27;301(13):687-90. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197909273011303.


One hundred and fifty patients with advanced cancer participated in a controlled double-blind study to evaluate the effects of high-dose vitamin C on symptoms and survival. Patients were divided randomly into a group that received vitamin C (10 g per day) and one that received a comparably flavored lactose placebo. Sixty evaluable patients received vitamin C and 63 received a placebo. Both groups were similar in age, sex, site of primary tumor, performance score, tumor grade and previous chemotherapy. The two groups showed no appreciable difference in changes in symptoms, performance status, appetite or weight. The median survival for all patients was about seven weeks, and the survival curves essentially overlapped. In this selected group of patients, we were unable to show a therapeutic benefit of high-dose vitamin C treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / adverse effects
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Placebos


  • Placebos
  • Ascorbic Acid